If you got here by typing something like “best EDC knife” into Google, you probably already have a little history with knives. Likely, you already have at least some indication of what you do and do not like in a knife, owning at least a few yourself already. But chances are, you are also looking to see what others think on the topic of the best EDC knife as well. In all probability, you’re looking to see:
- What production knives are the most popular,
- What other knife users would recommend, and
- If you’ve missed noticing any knives you really would’ve liked if you only known about them to begin with.
Well if that’s why you’re here, you’re in luck. We’re here to remedy all three of these problems in this one (admittedly quite long) article!
Frankly, I’ve seen so many spammy articles on the “Best Everyday Carry Knife”/”Best Pocket Knife” topic around the net that I thought I’d throw my own experience into the mix to set the story straight at least a little.
While I haven’t reviewed every single item on this list, I have reviewed the vast majority of these knives. And unlike those spammy sites where the author just regurgitates Amazon reviews into one copy written review piece that they publish on their blog, I’ve actually handled each and every one of the knives I’ve reviewed on More Than Just Surviving (and have the original photography taken by Elise to prove it).
Not trying to toot my own horn here – realistically, I’m just trying to get you to think about where you’re getting your information from. We’re certainly not the only ones on the net to use every knife we review before we write up a review, and there actually are plenty of great EDC/general knife reviewers & sites out there that do some kickass knife reviews. Just want you to think about where you’re getting your advice from, as there are knife people, and then there are niche site creators just trying to earn a quick buck from an industry they know very little to nothing about.
My recommendation: get your knife advice from boss knife guys like,
- Tony from Everyday Commentary,
- Stefan from his Stefan Schmalhaus YouTube Channel,
- Jeff from the Cutlery Lover YouTube Channel,
- & (my personal favourite) Cliff from CliffStamp.com, instead.
Hell, as much bad rap as Nutnfancy gets at times for some of the things he says on his YouTube Channel (politics mostly) – at least no one could ever deny the fact he uses each and every product he makes a review about. He’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but he’s at least genuinely reviewing. Nutnfancy does his best to test each product he uses well enough to give you his own informed opinion – you absolutely have to give him that.
Now, before you start looking through this massive list (sorted into categories so it’s much easier to browse – if you’d prefer an article that sorts the best EDC knives by price point, take a look at our best bang-for-buck folders article), I’d like you to first get it into your head that the best everyday carry knife on the market will be different for each and every person. Don’t think that because the knives on this list are deemed some of the best in the market that you’ll find the very best one for you on this list.
Yes, if a knife is popular enough and highly recommended by other knife users, it does typically indicate that knife is probably going to at least strike your fancy as well – after all there’s typically very good reason that a knife is a hit, especially when it comes to a market as saturated with new and high-quality products as the knife market. If there’s a hit it’s usually a hit for good reason (I say and mean usually; some knives truly do not deserve the praise they get – but that’s pretty rare).
Finding what works best for you is no minor feat. It’s not an exact science either – sometimes knives that look great on paper just don’t feel right in the hand, which is why we’ve not only taken the time to make this list, but to direct you to the product reviews we’ve written up on the individual knives as well. That way, in case you’d like to take a look at some in-hand shots or figure out what there is to like and dislike about a knife before you make a purchase – you can do that. There are some knives that I really recommend trying in person before you buy, like the Manix 2 FRN for instance. Others – well really the majority of knives – you can get away with watching a video or reading a review to learn about how they feel and that’s typically enough to let you know how they’ll be for you in person.
The Single Best EDC Knife
Now before I start breaking things down, in case you’re new to the knife world, I did want to let you in on a well-known fact within the knife community. There’s one everyday carry knife that pretty much has remained consistently at the very top of the list for so many knife users from the date it first came to production until now.
This knife is almost always sold out. It could be in stock one day and gone completely off Amazon the next. And it’s not even a new knife. In fact, the knife was released way back in July of 2010, and it’s still so incredibly popular that it can be really difficult to snag.
What is this knife?
I’m sure you seasoned knife guys reading this already guessed at even seeing the “single best EDC knife” title. There was absolutely no surprise here for you.
Time for the explanation. Why’s this thing always at the top of the “best EDC” list? Well for starters, it’s pretty much the single most inoffensive technically tactical option currently available on the market (in my opinion). Does it look like a tactical EDC? Not really, no. Could it be used as such? Hell yes! It’s one of the stabbiest knives on the market that still happens to be an everyday carry option. It punches way above its class – both in terms of price and in terms of the fact that it’s supposedly a mere EDC knife. Everything about its design and construction is geared towards being above average with no real points of failure. It’s tough, but not a beater; it’s a good cutter, but not a light-saber; it’s not expensive, nor is it a cheap knife – I could go on for days, but you get the idea. It’s just a great all-round, all-purpose knife. Arguably better than any other knife on the market for this (not just by me – by everyone; just check the forums if you’re unconvinced).
In the cutlery industry, manufacturers tend to have to cater to a specific demographic in order to stand out. Spyderco, with the Para-military 2, opted for producing something that is truly mainstream in the purist of ways – no catering to “I want a super ninja folding pry bar milspec warrior soldier knife!”
Remember how I said that just because there seems to be universal consensus and love for a specific knife, and that on paper it could be absolutely perfect, but it just doesn’t work out or happen to be the right knife for you? If you have read my review on the Para-military 2, you will likely have remembered the fact that I clearly state this is definitely not my favourite knife. I’m not in love with the Spyderco Paramilitary 2 like so many are, and yet I really do have to firmly recommend it as the best EDC option. It’s just not for me (not getting into details here as if you’re interested, you can always take a glance over the review!).
As someone who owns literally hundreds of EDC knives, I can think of many knives that I do love and yet cannot possibly recommend on a list of the best EDC knives (the Kershaw Blur and the Buck 110 to name a few). These are knives that, while I do adore them for what they are, have inherent compromises or flaws that force me to remove them off any “best EDC knife” pedestal.
So there you have it, if you want an EDC knife that can do more or less everything at an acceptable (average – not too pricey not overly cheap) price with no real flaws to speak of, I give you the Spyderco Para-Military 2.
Now take a look at the best EDC knives by category. For the absolute best EDC knives, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this article!
Best Budget EDC Knives
1. Kershaw Chill – This knife is absurd value for money with great minimalist styling from R.J Martin. Reviewed here.
2. Spyderco Tenacious – The cheapest full size Spyderco with really nice action and that unique Spyderco styling. A great introduction to Spyderhole deployment. Reviewed here.
3. Opinel (Any; though the No. 8 is most common) – This can’t have come as a surprise; it’s really a fantastic performer at any price point and taking into account you can pick one up for 10 bucks, it’s almost blasphemous not to have one in your collection. Reviewed here.
4. Spyderco Sage 1 – I know it’s not super inexpensive, but in terms of sheer bang for buck, it’s hard to compete with. Fantastic design & great fit and finish; all with premium materials. One of Elise’s favourite knives for good reason! Reviewed here.
5. Buck Vantage – A great USA made folder with that legendary 420HC steel for less that 50 bucks. Reviewed here.
Best Bushcraft/Outdoor EDC Knives
1. Enzo Birk 75 – Enzo have been around for quite a few years now. Very scandinavian in both origin and design, excellent performer in the field in terms of bushcraft tasks, and all for a very reasonable price point. Never reached mainstream adoption in the States though, and I think that’s a damned shame. The spartan lines of Enzo knives are very distinct, and with the premium materials used, I am sure you would get quite a few appreciative questions directed at it.
2. Cold Steel Finn Wolf – Hands down my favourite knife from 2015. Unbelievable performance, balance, weight and price point. I can’t say much more about it without sounding like (even more of) a fanboy. Reviewed here.
3. Helle Skala – I reckon out of all the knives on this list, this Helle probably has the best in hand feel. Sculpted wood handles with generous proportions and no tactical scoops or scallops, this is a traditional, all business work-knife, and performs as such.
4. Spyderco Nilakka – Never owned it, but I have handled it in the past. My hesitation towards a CPM S30V blade that’s ground to a zero edge with no relief bezel did put me off somewhat. Early reviews had mentions of chipping, but when it comes to sheer cutting performance (especially for soft wood), can it be beat? I doubt it. When I finally snag this knife up (price is a little high for me) I will convex the edge and really see how deep this little sucker bites – I have a feeling it will exceed all expectations.
5. Opinel No. 10 – Out of all the bigger brother Opinels, I think the No. 10 offers the most cutting performance relative to cost. It’s a surprisingly large knife, which I think many people don’t expect. I recently bought two Opinel No. 9‘s (got a great price on them) and was surprised at the difference in hand when compared to the 8. We are talking a substantial increase and for the money I think Opinels are the best outdoor performing folders around. Sadly, the usual caveats of being careful around water (wood swells with moisture) apply. Makes me wish Cold Steel still made the ringmaster.
Best Lightweight EDC Knives
If you’re interested in seeing more lightweight knife recommendations than are in this section, take a look at our article on the best lightweight folding knives for hikers.
1. CRKT Ripple – Much like the Spyderco Military, it’s a nested liner which aids with weight reduction. Couple that with extensive skeletonization and you have what is (imo) the king of the featherweights. IKBS flipper deployment too! Reviewed here.
|Columbia River Knife and Tool K410KXP Ken Onion Ripple-Aluminum Razor Edge Knife
45 total customer reviews…
2. Spyderco Delica 4 – One of my favourite EDCs (maybe even the favourite). It’s one hell of a folder with a featherweight impact in your pocket. Reviewed here.
3. Spyderco Military – I know this will get a few raised eyebrows as it’s a 4 inch tactical folder, but with its nested liner lock & G-10 construction, it really punches above its weight taking into account how much cutting power is packed in. Reviewed here.
4. Kershaw Skyline – I have yet to review it, but it’s on my list. Probably one of the most recommended lightweight EDCs on the internet.
5. CRKT Drifter – Impeccable fit and finish in a small lightweight package. Shocking taking into account the price point. Nested liners with one of the nicest feeling lock engagements around. Obviously not a heavy duty knife, but its balance is close to perfect for a lightweight EDC option. Reviewed here.
|Columbia River Knife and Tool (CRKT) Drifter 6450K G10 Plain Edge Folding Knife
302 total customer reviews…
Best Heavy-Duty Beater EDC Knives
1. Cold Steel Recon 1 – In my opinion Cold Steel makes the toughest folders around. Yes, they have goofy marketing gimmicks, but if you ignore Lynn Thompson’s antics I think you will find they are quite excellent, especially taking into account the price! Reviewed here.
2. Benchmade Adamas – Ridiculously overbuilt in every way possible including weight. It’s literally a boat anchor that could be used to pry or chop pretty much anything without fearing that the blade or the lock would fail. Reviewed here.
|Benchmade 275BKSN Plain Edge Black Coated Blade/ Sand Color G10 Handle/ Sand MOLLE® Pouch
68 total customer reviews…
3. Cold Steel Pocket Bushman – Clunkly lock, questionable ergonomics, but it’s a veritable folding fixed blade. I own it (review coming soon) and I am beyond impressed with its toughness.
4. Kershaw Volt – One of the toughest knives for the money that you can buy. It’s like an inexpensive tactical beater with a very stout blade and strong stainless steel framelock. And an R.J. Martin Design to boot! Reviewed here.
5. Ontario RAT 1 – A stalwart of the best bang for buck arena, it’s a solid well made knife with a tough full flat ground blade and well implemented stainless steel liner lock. Reviewed here.
Best Tactical EDC Knives
1. CRKT Hissatsu – Aesthetically, it’s my favourite, which makes me more than a little biased, but its neutral handle, great penetration, & aggressive tanto design means I feel quite happy should I need to carry this for defensive purposes. Reviewed here.
2. Kershaw Leek – This may be a surprise, but if I had to pick one knife I didn’t want to be stabbed with, it’s this one. It’s a needlepoint. Literally. If you drop this, there’s is a good chance it will go through your foot. Reviewed here.
3. Kershaw Tremor – A pseudo pistol grip with a great assisted opening mechanism and a lot of blade to play with. Very “slashy,” for lack of a better word. Reviewed here.
4. Spyderco Civilian – I have handled it and it (honestly) scared me. Was literally designed from the ground up to rip, tear, and cut people to pieces. I don’t think I need to add anything more to that description.
5. Spyderco Matriarch – For the slightly less scary (but horrifying nonetheless!) version of the Civilian, the Matriarch is your best bet. As a bonus it’s significantly cheaper!
Best XL Oversized EDC Knives
1. Cold Steel Rajah II – I bought this knife expecting to hate it, then ended up falling it love with it. It’s not the most elegant knife around (although it does have a quirky sort of beauty in my opinion), but its sheer size is pretty awe inspiring. When you are fed up with political correctness or just want to be a contrarian – this is the perfect EDC. Its not really a knife, more of a folding machete. Reviewed here.
2. Spyderco Tatanka – Never owned it, again though, I did handle it, and considered buying it if not for the price. Strongest lock without going to the Cold Steel TRIAD lock (you know how I feel about the Tri-Ad Lock; I shan’t regurgitate my praises), but sadly, it’s very pricy. In terms of size and strength, however, the Spyderco Tatanka is one of the toughest knives around and most definetly the toughest Spyderco. Some may argue that the Spyderco Tuff is tougher, but having handled both, I would say the nod goes to the Tatanka.
3. Spyderco Szabo – Cold Steel oversized knives are scary because they are oversized; the Szabo is scary because its scary. End of. I think if you shrunk it to a keychain size blade it would still look like it just wants to stab you. By far the most tactical knife I can think of (at least aesthetically) and the compression lock and its generous size makes it a solid contender for the best oversized EDC knife. As a sidenote, this knife never reached commercial success (as is common with the quirkier Spydies) so when it becomes discontinued, I am almost certain its value will skyrocket. I bought a Spyderco Dodo Sprint run for 120 bucks, I could sell it tomorrow for 300. Interesting/odd duck Spydies are some of the best investments you can make in my opinion.
|SPYDERCO Szabo Folder CF/G-10 Laminate Black Blade Plain Edge Knife, Carbon Fiber, Left/Right
22 total customer reviews…
4. Cold Steel Voyager Tanto XL – The lightest, biggest knife around. I can think of no knife that is so absurd to pull out of your pocket (please don’t do this in public unless you are in a free state – this thing is the textbook definition of an offensive weapon). I once pulled it out around my in-laws and they just stopped talking and stared – and these are people used to me flinging around knives. The Voyager XL is huge, and yet due to its lightweight nature, is remarkably pocketable. I actually EDCed this for quite a long time, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend doing so if you’re interested. It’s the most EDC-friendly oversized knife you can buy by a significant margin. Reviewed here.
5. Extrema Ratio ROA – I don’t own it, I wish I did. This is the sort of blade you own “just because you can.” In terms of real world use… I don’t know what you would use it for. The blade is as wide as it is long – we are talking a folding sharpened shovel here people. I can definitely understand the lust around this monster, but sadly, until the price becomes affordable (for me), I shan’t be reviewing it.
|Extrema Ratio RAO Folder Folding Knife,Cobalt Steel Blade, Black Anodized Aluminum Alloy 130RAO
2 total customer reviews…
Best Titanium Framelock EDC Knives
1. Spyderco Sage 2 – I have waxed poetics over the Sage 2 for many years. It’s a kickass blade with a kickass framelock from one of the best factories in the world. I love it. Reviewed here.
2. Boker Epicenter by Rexford – I have been meaning to get this slab of titanium for a while. Great Rexford design at a very attractive price point. Historically, it had fit and finish issues, but it seems all problems have since been fixed.
3. Zero Tolerance 301 – It’s a classic beast of a knife weighing over 7 ounces with beautiful 3D machined scales, & a beefy titanium framelock.
4. Benchmade 761 Titanium – Looks amazing and with Benchmade’s quality control, I expect it will perform just as well as it looks. Ranks very high on my wishlist.
5. Maxpedition Excelsa – I think it’s the least expensive option (correct me if I am wrong) on the market, and from all reviews I have read it looks to be a solid contender for the poor man’s Sebenza.
|Maxpedition FRMLCKL Excelsa Large Framelock Folding Knife with D2 Blade and Titanium Handle
3 total customer reviews…
Best EDC Fixed Blade Neck Knives
1. ESEE Candiru – Absolutely love this little tyke. Great ergonomics with the optional scales & plenty of oomph behind the edge to do whatever is required of it in the field. Reviewed here.
2. CRKT Folts Minimalist – My most discreet neck knife. For when you really, really don’t want to be noticed wearing a knife, this is an excellent option. Remove the scales & flatten the sheath and it will literally disappear under your shirt. Reviewed here.
3. Boker Gnome – Have one coming soon. Unique styling and a very utilitarian blade makes it a solid option.
4. SOG Snarl – A very aggressive offering from Jason Brous with a unique 2-finger grip that offers solid in-hand retention. I don’t own it (yet), but can definitely see myself picking one up soon!
|SOG Specialty Knives & Tools JB01K-CP Brous Series Snarl Knife with Straight Edge 2.3-Inch Steel Blade and Black Molded Nylon Sheath, Satin Finish
111 total customer reviews…
5. (Benchmade) H&K Instigator – Hits all the right spots aesthetically as far as I am concerned; couple that with a very lean & utilitarian blade and I think H&K/Benchmade hit a home run.
|Benchmade HK Knives Instigator Knife with Plain-Edged BP1 Coated Blade (Black, 7.78-Inch)
32 total customer reviews…
Best Little EDC Knives
1. Kershaw Cinder – Absolutely tiny tyke. It’s for all intents and purposes a keychain knife, but interestingly enough, the ergonomics are top notch for its size. The design of the Cinder is very interesting. It’s technically (only just barely) a multitool and it’s completely adorable when closed. I own slipjoints that are way more intimidating than this lil’ blade. Sadly, the steel is subpar. In terms of real world use, I haven’t had any disastruous experiences (then again, I haven’t used it enough to tell – wait until the review for my final judgement) which tells me it’s not a butter knife, but I do wish Kershaw went with the higher carbon 8Cr13MoV; a few pennies more, but a significantly harder steel.
2. Spyderco Roadie – I knew I would love the Spyderco Roadie the moment I saw it. Bought it along with the Spyderco Pingo (which I do not like in the slightest) and found it remarkably useful from an EDC perspective. Legal pretty much everywhere with great neutral ergonomics and excellent grinds and steel choice. An absolute winner that I see myself starting a collection of in the future. Please Spyderco, release the Roadie with carbon fiber scales?
3. Spyderco Ambitious – While I’ve never owned it, I do have the Spyderco Tenacious (3 of them in fact) and the Resilience and frankly, that’s enough for me. I did handle the Spyderco Ambitious in store and it’s basically what you would expect – a shrunk down Spyderco Persistence, which in turn is a shrunk down Tenacious. The Ambitious is a solid knife with a solid, dependable design. Not the most exciting or unique knife out there, but it will do its job – no questions asked.
4. Case Small Texas Toothpick – Ah Case. I have a love affair with traditional American knives. Maybe it was my diet of Stallone movies as a kid or maybe I am nostalgic over a bygone era of uncharted trails and cowboys, but there is definitely something special about these classic slipjoints. This Case knife is legendary in its own right, and beyond being a decent small EDC, it’s probably the classiest option on this list. One of my first choices for a formal knife – thinking church or weddings here!
5. Boker Plus Subcom Titan – The biscuit knife has been the default suggestion on the forums for small(er) knives for many years now and finally we have a Titanium version with premium steel. Top marks Chad Los Banos- you designed a very cool knife with above average performance. I really love how this one disappears in your pocket.
|Boker Plus 01BO605 CLB Subcom Titan VG-10 Folding Knife with 1-7/8 in. Straight Edge Blade, Titanium
26 total customer reviews…
Best Leftie EDC Knives
1. Benchmade Griptilian – Benchmade makes the top spot here. It’s not a surprise to those who have handled an axis lock folder; very intuitive regardless of how wrong handed (I kid, I kid) you are. Reviewed here.
|Benchmade 551 Griptillian Pardue Design; Plain Edge; Satin Drop Point Blade with Black Handle and AXIS technology, Made in USA
197 total customer reviews…
2. Benchmade 940 Osbourne – As I mentioned with the last Benchmade, this one’s also just naturally ambidextrous.
3. DPX Left handed H.E.S.T – literally designed for you lefties & a great knife to boot. Very impressive fit & finish by Lion Steel in Italy.
4. Cold Steel Recon 1 – It comes with a pocket clip just for left handed users. Added bonus: the thumb studs and triad lock work identically for left or right hand users. Reviewed here.
5. Spyderco Para-military 2 – A modern day classic that just works regardless of what you want from it – and that includes left-hand carry. Reviewed here.
Best Across the Board EDC Knives
1. Spyderco Paramilitary 2 – It’s the easiest recommendation by far. Nothing I can say about it hasn’t been said already – reliable and a little something for everyone with no real flaws to speak of. Reviewed here.
2. Case Swayback Gent – My only true gentleman folder; puts a smile on my face. Even though in terms of sheer performance it’s not exactly optimal, I just can’t help but recommend it. It rocks. Reviewed here.
|Case Cutlery 02746 Pocket Worn Sway Back Gent Pocket knife with Stainless Steel Blade Old Red Bone
5 total customer reviews…
3. Kershaw / Emerson CQC-6K – Inexpensive & sturdy with a very nice steel framelock & flat head adjustable pivot, all with a relatively stout blade. I loved it when I reviewed it, and I don’t see my opinion changing anytime soon! Reviewed here.
4. Cold Steel Recon 1 – There’s something to be said about having a gargantuation super tough folder, and now with upgraded American CTS-XHP steel, there really is no reason not to pick one up. Reviewed here.
5. Kershaw Chill – Cuts far beyond its price class, super simple in all the right ways its definitely one of my favourite options for slipping into my pockets. Reviewed here.
Well that’s a mega-post if I’ve ever saw one! Hopefully you’ve found what you were looking for – or at least something you liked – and if not, no worries! Keep an eye on our reviews as there’ll be plenty more EDC knives featured over time.
Let us know your experience with any of the knives listed above in the comments section. If you feel like a few knives that didn’t make it to this mega-list should’ve made it up there, let us know which knives and why – as well as which section you feel they belong in.
And of course, if you have a favourite EDC, be sure to share that with us as well!